Short story recounting how an Ohio man used his handy skills to restore over 100 cars and countless antiques.
Story by Steven Korba
Man hasn’t learned to travel through time yet, but my friend Glenn Wengerd has a way of bringing the past into the present. He has a very special talent for taking old, worn-out objects and restoring them to like-new condition.
Glen has lived his entire life in the pretty little town of Winesburg, in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country. In fact, his mother was Amish, and Glenn maintains close ties with the Amish community. He even operates a small trans-port service, driving Amish children to and from school.
Glenn’s main profession, however, is restoring old cars and other antiques. He stumbled into his vocation as a high school student, when he got a part-time job with an older man in the restoration business. He told me he knew he had found his life’s passion when he saw how an apparent piece of junk could be turned into something beautiful.
Since then, Glenn has restored more than 100 cars and trucks, including vehicles formerly owned by Clark Gable and Tyrone Power. Other cars that he’s restored have been exhibited in museums and prestigious auto shows.
As a wealthy car collector once told me, “You wouldn’t know it to look at his shop, but this guy’s a real artist.”
Glenn’s work with cars and trucks eventually got him interested in restoring other old things—tractors, bicycles, stoves, toys and much more. It also got him hooked on history, a subject he told me he detested in school. He became especially intrigued with local history and has served the Winesburg Historical Society as either president or vice president for the past 25 years.
I stop by Glenn’s small shop whenever I can. His likable personality would be reason enough to visit, but I’m always curious to have a look at his latest projects. I usually find one or two other men in the shop talking with him, watching him work and maybe even helping him out.
Not long ago Glenn had to recruit 10 of these friends to help him move a newly restored 5,000-pound safe into a physician’s office. It was absolutely beautiful, and Glenn told me it was one of his most satisfying jobs ever.
One of his hobbies is collecting and refurbishing bicycles from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, which he displays in his own home or elsewhere around Winesburg. Young boys and girls wish they could ride these shiny beauties, and older folks remember when they actually did.
Over the years, Glenn’s devotion to restoration has grown to include larger projects, such as his own house, which was built in 1897. He and his wife, Christi, worked together to turn it into a showplace that they open to visitors on special occasions.
Glenn has also worked with the historical society to renovate a log cabin built in 1837 and a one-room schoolhouse dating back to 1876. Both buildings now grace a small Winesburg park and are a source of community pride.
I’ve seen Glenn work his magic on things I thought were beyond hope and have been amazed at the results. Roy Miller, an Amish man who often works with Glenn, summed it up when he told me, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned since working with him, it’s that there isn’t anything that can’t be fixed.”
Hmmm. I wonder if he could do a little work on me.